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Share Castle – World Heritage Site that is a Royal residence for Kings of Ryukyu Kingdom

In the concrete jungle of Naha there is one particular place where you can immerse yourself in alluring Okinawan heritage, truly distinctive form Japanese culture. What I am talking about is Shuri-jo castle that served as a royal residence for kings of Ryukyu Kingdom until 1879. Sitting atop a hill, just few kilometers from central Naha, it is World Heritage Site that represents a unique combination of Chinese and Japanese architectural influences.

Shuri castle in Okinawa prefecture

Beautiful Red residence, Shuri castle

Undeniably, it is one of those places where people can experience ancient Okinawan culture that Okinawan inhabitants are very proud of. In the past, the Shuri-jo was playing a significant role in contacts with China and lords from Kyushu region in Japan. In its opulent throne room, Chinese and Kyushu envoys were enjoying elaborate imperial ceremonies, delicious Okinawan food and beautiful court dance.

Another roof of Shuri castle

Unfortunately, very little of the original remains. Nevertheless, the whole complex was restored and rebuilt in 1990 and it is worth visiting due to its immersive character and offbeat blend of Japanese and Chinese architectural design.

A gate of Shuri Castle

A gate and unique represent, Shuri castle

Shuri-jo Castle, What to see

I strongly recommend to enter Shuri-jo through enhancing and decorative main gate called Shurei-mon and easily accessible from the Suimuikan, a modern information and shopping center. It is a great spot for group photos and at the same time a starting point that will lead you to a more impressive inner gate Kankai-mon. It is a monumental guard defense tower made out of limestone constantly baked in the pouring sun. After going through few more inner gates you finally will approach a ticket office before reaching the main courtyard.

 impressive inner gate Kankai-mon, Shuri Castle

 impressive inner gate Kankai-mon, Shuri Castle

 impressive inner gate Kankai-mon, Shuri Castle

 impressive inner gate Kankai-mon, Shuri Castle

The main pride of place goes to a beautiful structure Seidan. It is a double-roofed palace with enormous and full of colors porch and two throne halls. The upper throne room is stunningly elaborate and a masterpiece in design details with its gilded dragons structures. The colors of intense, vivid red combined with black lacquer can make you feel “dizzy” and astonished. In the past, it was a place where king would review his troops or watch interesting ceremonies in the courtyard below. But was was the most compelling thing above all, it was a room that had to thrill the foreign delegates coming to deal with Ryukyu Kingdom. And, certainly it did impress the foreign ambassadors. Other buildings exhibit remains of the past dynasty and a brief history of  reconstruction work.

Beautiful roof architecture, Shuri castle

Shuri castle also has a beautiful garden.

A King chair

Inside Shuri castle

A beautiful painting is displayed.

Inside Shuri castle

inside Shuri castle

Another things to see after Shuri Castle

Once you finish doing sightseeing within the castle you might enter a tranquil park featuring a stone-walled pond and remnants of the most beautiful temple in the Ryukyu Kingdom: Enkaku-ji. Alternatively, and highly recommended, you can eat traditional Okinawan goya (bitter melon) dish and  a sweet delicacy, Okinawan doughnuts, in the restaurant located close to the exit.

Okinawan traditional costume

A view from Shuri castle

Okinawa sweet and tea

Okinawa food

Useful links and information:

The official website of the Shuri-jo Castle: here

How to get there:

To get there take a bus No 1 from Kokusai-dori  (every15-20 minutes) or bus No 17 from Naha Bus Terminal (every 30 minutes). You need to get off near the Suimuikan, an information and shopping center where you can get a fairly sketch English map.

Alternatively, you can catch the monorail to Shuri-jo Station where it terminates.

For more information on transpiration please visit: here

Name Shuri-jo Castle
Category World Heritage Site
Address Shurijo Castle 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 903-0815
Access [map]Shurijo Castle 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 903-0815[/map]
Opening Hours Various
Price Range Various
Payment options Both
Dagmara Korecka

Dagmara Korecka

Dagmara is a designer and writer of Polish life style magazine, currently living and working in Tokyo. Her biggest passion is traveling and exploring what has been hidden and unknown as well as meeting people from all over the world and experiencing new cultures. She loves cycling, yoga and long walks. As a food lover, she deeply scrutinizes gastronomy world and Japanese cuisine through her own cooking and creating own recipes. The best way for her to relax is to go to hot spring or read a book.

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